Following Estonia’s annexation by the Soviet Union in the 1940s, proselytizing in the country was not possible. In 1989, when the Soviet Union weakened travel restrictions, Valtteri Rötsä left Estonia to visit relatives in Hikiä, Finland. While there, he met Latter-day Saint missionaries and was soon baptized. Recognizing an opportunity to preach in the Baltic States, mission president Steven R. Mecham received permission to ordain Rötsä an elder, encouraged him to share the gospel with friends and neighbors in Estonia, and promised him that missionaries would soon follow.
At the same time, Rötsä’s son-in-law, Enn Lembit, was praying for God’s direction. As Rötsä shared the Book of Mormon and Gospel Principles with him, a deep feeling of peace and joy confirmed that this was the answer to his prayers. Lembit immediately began inviting people to weekly meetings in his home to study Church literature.
In November 1989, Pekka Uusitupa, a Finnish Church member, was invited to one such meeting. Uusitupa read from the Book of Mormon and invited those present to ask God if the Church was true. One participant, Jaanus Silla, recalled: “Everyone was kneeling down, and I remember the very peaceful feeling that I had and I had absolutely no doubt that this is true.” Aivar Lembit, Enn’s brother, was so impressed by what he read that he decided to join the Church. “It seemed as if I had found the path, support, and assurance that I had searched for my whole life,” Aivar said.
Missionaries soon came to Tallinn regularly and organized a branch. In June 1990, Aivar Lembit—who faithfully traveled about two hours by bus each way to attend Church meetings—was called as branch president.